Today, Governor-elect Youngkin announced his nomination of Andrew Wheeler as the next Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources and Michael Rolband as the next Virginia Director of Environmental Quality. Wheeler served as former President Trump’s EPA chief where he weakened regulations on the release of mercury and toxic metals from oil and coal-fired plants. Wheeler has also lobbied for the coal industry. Michael Rolband founded Wetland Studies and Solutions Inc., a natural and historic resources consulting firm, and has testified for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
POWHR’s Co-Chair Roberta Bondurant said “Governor-elect Youngkin’s nomination of a clean air and water destroying, climate-action-obstructing coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, for Secretary of Natural Resources is exactly what no Virginian needs. His nomination of Michael Rolband for Director of Environmental Quality when Rolbland has testified for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is completely backward. We are on the ground fighting for our lives, land, and water amidst a climate crisis and rampant environmental injustice. This moment calls for nothing but bold and immediate climate action, the end to the abominable Mountain Valley Pipeline, and a decisive transition to a renewable economy that will benefit all Virginians.” See and share this quote in our new press release.
Sarah Vogelsong at the Virginia Mercury details how “two top Virginia officials recommended that the General Assembly not forbid any new carbon-emitting power plants ‘at this time,’ saying that the state can meet its ambitious decarbonization goals without a moratorium”, and goes into energy considerations, risk and policy all Virginians will be impacted by in the coming year.
In Other News
Check out the Central Virginian’s part one of ”On Monacan land: A three-part series”. Toby Cox writes “the Earth was and remains important to the Monacans. According to [George Branham] Whitewolf, the community lives ‘seven generations in the future,’ meaning they care for the condition of the environment that will be passed down to future generations.”
Build Back Better is back on the Senate floor this week - see more in our blog! E&E News lays out 4 possible scenarios for the Act, 1) “Go small”, by reducing the pricetag of the bill even further - cutting programs like coastal resilience and wildfire mitigation. 2) “No deal”. E&E states “Manchin already killed a key policy to address climate change, the Clean Electricity Performance Program”, and excluding the child tax credit might be a “dealbreaker” for a lot of Democrats. 3). “Climate breakout”, or splitting off the $555 billion chunk of BBB devoted to climate measures and “passing it individually”, which Manchin has said he might support. 4) “Spending bills”, or using annual spending bills to infuse agencies with more capacity and money. The Washington Post reports that “‘The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement on,’ Manchin told reporters.”
The Department of the Interior, covered by The Hill’s Zack Budryk, “said there are currently more than 130,000 documented abandoned, or orphaned, wells. Comparatively, a 2019 report from the Interior documented a total of 56,600 orphaned wells across 30 states.” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland continues to hold plugging old wells as a top priority. The Washington Post’s new analysis shows: “More than 4 in 10 Americans live in a county that was struck by climate-related extreme weather last year, according to a new Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations, and more than 80 percent experienced a heat wave. In the country that has generated more greenhouse gases than any other nation in history, global warming is expanding its reach and exacting an escalating toll.” E&E News has a nice guide on "What to watch at DOE, FERC, Interior in 2022" for your perusal.
Processing and Moving Forward
To bring us back to what is important and in front of us in all the uncertainty and bad news, check out this piece by adrienne maree brown in Truthout, Letting Go: Wisdom From Our Grief. brown guides us: “we have to let go of capitalism, and the accumulation drive and supremacy posturing that it produces in us. We have to let go of our destructive tendencies toward each other and the planet. We extract from each other, destroy each other — we do the same to this precious and only Earth we know.”